I started riding Amtrak back in 1985. It was relatively easy for me to do at that time, since I was living in Toledo and had easy access to the Lake Shore Limited. Toledo provided me with great access to a variety of Amtrak routes and I rode the City of New Orleans, California Zephyr, Southwest Limited, Crescent and Cardinal at varying times in the late 1980s.
In 1986, I was aboard the since discontinued Lake Cities waiting to head to Detroit and points beyond as it was set to depart from Toledo’s Central Union Terminal, now the MLK Station. While waiting to depart, someone came on board the train and distributed a membership brochure for the Ohio Association of Rail Passengers (OARP), now All Aboard Ohio. I joined and have been a member ever since.
In 1992, I relocated to Columbus (should I say was exiled to Columbus?) where there was no regular Amtrak service, so it took a little more effort to take advantage of passenger rail. I still used Toledo as a departure point to ride Amtrak, and I thought that it would only be a matter of time before Columbus got Amtrak service. Surely a thriving central Ohio would get passenger service in a relatively short period of time, I thought. I joined the local group that met at the Red Door Tavern led by Bob Boyce and then Larry Robertson. I experienced the highs and lows of attempts to get Columbus reconnected to the Amtrak system, with a near miss back in 2010 in the form of service along the 3-C Corridor, only to be dramatically let down by the veto of Governor John Kasich. It was truly a day of infamy!
Larry Robertson worked hard to keep the fires burning here in Columbus, and we continue to labor to get service restored to Ohio’s capital city. We diligently spread the gospel of passenger rail and I feel that the tide is turning. Larry stepped aside from his leadership position of our central Ohio group a couple of years ago and I took over. Our group is working at a number of levels as we strive to get the central Ohio “donut” filled in Amtrak’s national network! If you live in central Ohio and want to get involved in our efforts, we meet the third Saturday of each month from 10 am until 12 noon, currently at the Grandview Heights Public Library, 1685 West First Avenue, in Grandview Heights. We would love to have you join us!